Baseball's legacy is based on two things, its legends and its records. Baseball's legacy is full of names the we revere. Ruth, Gehrig, Aaron, and Mays, are some of the legends that have graced the diamond.
Unlike any other sport, the records in baseball matter.
Basketball fans, what do the numbers 15,806 or 38,387 mean to you?
Football fans, what do the numbers 464 or 18,355 mean to you?
Now I ask you, what do the numbers 61 and 755 mean to you? Hitting in baseball is an individual task. In order for a basketball player to score a basket or a football player to score a touchdown, he is dependent on his team. In baseball, hitting is a task that is completed solely by the individual. That is why these records matter. They are inspiring and true representations of individual greatness.
That is what made Alex Rodriguez the most important player in the games today. He may not have been well liked player by many fans. He may not have been a good person or one of high character. But, before last Saturday, he was baseball's savior.
He was the one to bring credibility back to the records that had been spat upon by men like McGwire, Sosa, and Bonds. He was supposed to be a hero. A man who played clean while all those around him played dirty. He was supposed to be the face that led us out of the steroid era. He failed us.
Now there is no hope.
By the time Rodriguez is done, he will have hit 800 home runs. No one will break Rodriguez's career mark and Bonds's season mark of 73. To break Alex Rodriguez's record, a player would have to average 40 home runs over a 20 season career. That is too much to ask of any man.
Bud Selig will not change the record books because he was the man, along with the MLBPA, that let this happen while in full knowledge of what was going on. These records no longer stand for individual greatness. Now, they stand for individual weakness.
You may call me naive in thinking Alex Rodriguez was clean. I will admit I was and still am. But as a fan of the game, I could not be cynical of any players or their achievements without clear evidence.
Some say, he only used steroids for three years. Rodriguez said that he wanted people to look at what he did as a Mariner and a Yankee, while ignoring his years and numbers as a Texas Ranger. But, as I heard Dan Shaunessey say, “If you shoot 31 on the front nine, and cheat on the back nine, you forfeit the round.”
Even after Saturday, I can not be skeptical of any player when there is no proof. Speculation is not enough. Even though people say they would not be surprised if other big name players took steroids, I will be. I could never enjoy another baseball game if I believed or even speculated that many of the players had used steroids or performance enhancing drugs.
Even though I am 17 years old, the numbers that matter to me are still 61 and 755. The greatest home run hitters are Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Ken Griffey Jr. All I can do about Rodriguez, Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa is ignore their numbers.
All I can do is forget.